Rediscovering a Capital Region childhood

Mason Daley - Soapbox Photo.jpg

One of Albany's newest residents has a lot to look forward to.

soapbox badgeAt 7:57am on Sunday, April 29, 2012, my life changed forever.

My wife, Jennifer, and I welcomed a beautiful 7lb,12oz. baby boy into the world. Mason Royal Daley. Our first child.

Words cannot do true justice to the emotions that poured over me when Mason was born. I felt bliss, fear, admiration, confusion, and excitement all at the same time. I'm coming to understand how much love I have that I didn't know I was capable of. I am so looking forward to being a part of my son's life. I'm excited to share with him all the things that I experienced growing up.

Parenthood, in some ways, is a bit of a second shot at childhood.

Mason's arrival has rejuvenated my desire to go out and explore, discovering and rediscovering wonderful things that are right here in my backyard.

Here's what's at the top of that list:

Hoffman's Playland
It's hard to believe, but this place has been going strong for 60 years! My mother brought me when I was just a small fry, and that was 30 years ago. Sure, a few of the rides have changed (mostly for safety sake) but the essential feel of Hoffman's is still the same. There's a great sense of nostalgia. I like to think that even folks making their first visit will get the sense they've been there before. I fondly remember 'driving' the black and white police cars on their tracks (since replaced with 4x4 trucks), the Iron Horse Train, and being glad I was big enough to get on the Paratrooper and Scrambler.

The New York State Museum

NYS Museum -Martin Daley.jpg

What a spectacular place to learn about New York State. My memories of the NYS Museum date back to when I was 3 or 4. Once my mother took me to a sleepover event in the Adirondack section. I distinctly remember falling asleep to the simulated sounds of crickets, tree frogs, and a bubbling brook while wondering if the stuffed bear would come to life and if the Model A Ford would still start in case I needed to drive away. I think the Adirondack Exhibit is one of the most peaceful and calming places in the Capital Region. Mason and I will have many years of engaging history lessons ahead of us.

Warner's Lake
This lake, located in Berne, was a frequent summer destination in my household. The beach isn't much to brag about, but for a little kid there's enough real-estate to play and splash around until the heart's content. In later years I went to the Jewish Community Center's Teen Summer Camp there, so it had a continuing place in my heart for most of my childhood. I learned to water-ski, sail, and play TAPS (a game where, in a circle, players had to catch and throw volleyball all in one motion or they were out) while at camp here, and it's where I formed the bonds of my closest and longest lasting friendships.

John Boyd Thacher State Park & Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Five Rivers Sign - Martin Daley.jpg

You don't have to be a child to enjoy what these places have to offer. To be honest, since the pools were torn out of Thacher, the park is less enticing for the kids. I think the first hike I ever went on was along the cliff trail at Thacher and my favorite field trips were the ones that took us to Five Rivers. I think visiting these places inspired a sense of environmental stewardship.

Steamer No. 10
I've only been here once, a decade ago, and it was to vote. When I was growing up I went to see children's plays at the Egg and fondly remember productions of shows like Peter Pan and the Pied Piper. Sadly, at some point, the production company and Egg parted ways. These days the Egg is more a concert venue than a theater. I still enjoy going to there -- I even took Mason to see Guster in March. Ok, he was still in utero. I am looking forward to bringing Mason to Steamer No. 10. I think theater will help inspire his imagination and creativity, and given the venue is within walking distance of our house, it could be a wonderful adventure on summer nights.

There are lots of other things. Some of them, like the USS Slater, weren't even here when I was a kid. I'm eager to teach Mason to ride a bike and bring him out along the wonderful bike paths we have. I want to introduce him to hiking and bring him up Hadley Mountain, and take him to learn to ski at West.

We've got a lot to look forward to.

Martin has very appropriate username on Twitter: @daleyplanit.

More of Martin on the Soapbox:
+Albany Rural Cemetery, after dark
+ The view from 33
+ An Urban Wish List
+ The quintessential Capital Region food
+ Awesome Albany architecture
+ Historic Albany's endangered building list
+ What's your favorite Capital Region building?


Mason has so much to look forward to in the Capital Region! We've been writing about all kinds of fun things to do with kids, locally and beyond, and look forward to sharing this exciting new journey with you.

Welcome to 518Parenthood! I think that you've hit the nail on the head here. I've loved every second of reliving my childhood through the eyes if my daughter and now my son. I was expecting a little bit about walking Albany in your post. That is one memory I vividly remember...walking with my mom, and later my friends, school, little leauge, church, Cardona's and Prinzo's, Lou-Bea's and everywhere in between. I'll have to find ways for Em and Jack to experience some if this because we're out of Albany proper nowadays. I eventually traded up to my Huffy and when my kids get there, that will open up the world even more for them.

Another New York State Mason!

"Oh, Albany" makes for some great bedtime stories!

I recently read an article somewhere that said Mason was the most popular name in 2011 - now there are two of us.

Boy can I relate to this article. It's exactly right in terms of 1) the mixed emotions of parenthood 2) getting to revisit your childhood 3) all the fabulous local spots to introduce a child to. We're regulars at 4 of these places. Can't wait.. in a few years Elijah and Mason can ride the Hoffman's train together!

Having a child is indeed a second shot or at least a reminder of the magic of childhood. I thought of this yesterday and my 4 year old and myself rode figure 8's and generally raced all around the now empty parking lots of Sage, Albany College of Pharmacy and OPWDD on our BMX bikes. So many childhood 'far away' journeys are actually so close.

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